IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

The Economics of Education in Japan: A Survey of Empirical Studies and Unresolved Issues


  • Takashi Oshio
  • Wataru Seno


The purpose of this article is to survey the empirical studies on education in Japan and to identify the issues yet to be addressed by the research. We divide the existing studies into six categories: (1) human capital theory and rates of return on education, (2) the labor market and education, (3) factor analysis of educational performance, (4) industrial analysis of education, (5) determinants of education demand, and (6) education and social stratification. We then compare the purposes, methodologies, conclusions, and policy implications of the studies discussed. There is an abundance of literature on each topic and we found many insights provided by noneconomic approaches, such as education sociology, that are also of interest from an economic viewpoint. A lack of data, however, limits empirical analysis and leaves many problems unresolved.The following four issues in particular remain to be resolved. First, there are relatively few empirical analyses on educational performance in Japan as compared with countries like the United States, and long-term panel data that include educational background information need to be developed. Second, a certain level of liberalism is being allowed in school education at the municipal level, expanding the opportunities for conducting analyses of educational performance based on cross-sectional data. Third, additional analyses of education from the perspectives of industrial organizational theory and business management need to be performed in light of the conversion of the national universities into independent administrative institutions. Fourth, some topics are conducive to joint research by scholars in the fields of economics and education sociology, such as the relationships between education and social stratification, and between education and income disparities.

Suggested Citation

  • Takashi Oshio & Wataru Seno, 2007. "The Economics of Education in Japan: A Survey of Empirical Studies and Unresolved Issues," Japanese Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 34(1), pages 46-81.
  • Handle: RePEc:mes:jpneco:v:34:y:2007:i:1:p:46-81
    DOI: 10.2753/JES1097-203X340102

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Kikuchi, Nobuyoshi, 2014. "The effect of instructional time reduction on educational attainment: Evidence from the Japanese curriculum standards revision," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 17-41.
    2. Masakazu Hojo, 2011. "Education Production Function and Class-Size Effects in Japanese Public Schools," Global COE Hi-Stat Discussion Paper Series gd11-194, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    3. Nozaki, Yuko & Matsuura, Katsumi, 2017. "Does money affect children’s educational outcomes? Evidence from Japan," Economic Analysis and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 19-32.
    4. NAKAMURO Makiko & OSHIO Takashi & INUI Tomohiko, 2013. "Impact of School Quality on Student Achievements: Evidence from a Twin Survey in Japan," ESRI Discussion paper series 304, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:mes:jpneco:v:34:y:2007:i:1:p:46-81. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Chris Longhurst). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.